Biden Immigrant Residency Program Upheld by Federal Judge

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(Bloomberg) -- A federal judge declined to block a key Biden administration initiative that grants eligible immigrants from certain Latin American countries temporary residency in the US.

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US District Judge Drew Tipton in southern Texas on Friday swatted down a legal challenge to the so-called parole program by Texas and a coalition of Republican-led states. Tipton dismissed the case and ruled that the Lone Star State lacked standing to challenge the program.

Texas had argued that the program would lead to an increase in the number of migrants entering the state and therefore force the state to devote more money and resources.

“This theory ultimately fails,” Tipton said. “Texas is not financially harmed by the program.”

President Joe Biden has faced significant headwinds in his efforts to adopt border policies, particularly from Republicans who say the federal government is not doing enough to address the record number of people arriving at the US-Mexico border. Texas, in particular, has been a thorn in the administration’s side, filing frequent lawsuits challenging federal action at the border.

The ruling comes the day after Biden implored Congress during his State of the Union speech to pass a bipartisan border bill. His entreaties continue to fall on deaf ears in the GOP-controlled House which wants more restrictive policies on migrants.

In their lawsuit challenging the so-called parole program, attorneys general from Texas and 19 other Republican-led states argued that the initiative unlawfully creates a pathway to residency for the accepted migrants and exceeds executive authority on immigration policy.

Tipton didn’t rule on the constitutionality of the initiative because he found Texas had not demonstrated sufficient harm caused by the program to bolster its lawsuit. He said evidence presented at trial showed that there was not a significant increase in the number of people entering the state and Texas has “actually spent less money” as a result of the program.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton declined to comment on the ruling.

The program allows as many as 30,000 migrants per month from Nicaragua, Venezuela, Haiti and Cuba to receive work authorization in the US for two years. Almost 160,000 people arrived through the program during the first six months of its implementation, according to data from the Department of Homeland Security.

The program had been a bargaining chip in congressional negotiations over a proposed funding package for Ukraine, before the Senate deal collapsed. The issue could be revisited by the House later this spring as lawmakers try to resolve the ongoing impasse over Ukraine aid.

The case is Texas v. US Department of Homeland Security, 6:23-cv-00007, US District Court, Southern District of Texas (Victoria).

--With assistance from Erik Wasson.

(Updates with excerpt from judge’s ruling)

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